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Fears of Yarmouth council service cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:10 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:22 03 July 2010

COUNCIL chiefs in Yarmouth are to carry out a fundamental review of services as they battle to stem a £2.75m black hole - but insist that front line services such as street cleaning and maintaining public parks will not be hit.

COUNCIL chiefs in Yarmouth are to carry out a fundamental review of services as they battle to stem a £2.75m black hole - but insist that front line services such as street cleaning and maintaining public parks will not be hit.

The borough council is looking at all options to close the funding gap after being hit by increased demand in services and falling incomes following the recession and looks to cut spending by 25pc ahead of an expected drop in government funding.

The ruling Tory cabinet is tonight set to approve a series of measures as part of the medium term financial strategy aimed at stemming costs, which could rise to more than £4m under a worst case scenario.

These include:

a jobs freeze and keeping open vacancies - saving £500,000

raising £150,000 through a new lease deal on a major council owned property

cutting back on repairs and maintenance - saving £250,000

setting staff pay rises at 1pc or less - saving £104,000

The authority is the latest in to be hit by the downturn. Norwich City Council is facing a £8m black hole, while Broadland Council has recently approved taking £800,000 out of its reserves to plug a spending gap.

South Norfolk and Breckland councils have also recently agreed to trim £2m from their budgets in anticipation of cuts in government grant.

While Norfolk County Council, the largest and biggest spending authority is facing a £140m shortfall in the next three years.

And Yarmouth has also decided to write off £400,000 it lost following the collapse of the Icelandic banks last year, where it had £2m tied up - adding to the pressures.

The authority is not in a position to raid its reserve which hover around the £1m mark, but better than expected incomes from council car parks has also boosted income by £260,000 because of the higher number of visitors to the area.

Barry Coleman, leader of the council, said large pockets of deprivation had seen the borough particularly badly hit, while increased charges in some areas may need to be looked at.

A root and branch review of the discretionary services it provides is also being undertaken.

“It's no good waiting until we hit the brick wall,” Mr Coleman said. “Efficiencies are going to be required whatever we do, we are reducing staff through efficiencies - we are not about to make wholesale redundancies.

“We have got no intention of just doing short term things which will mean a long-term reduction in services,” he added. “The front line services are the ones we want to maintain, at least at the present level.”

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